I have seen the future and it is digital.

After several months of abject poverty, brought about primarily by the purchase of a home satellite TV system, i finally decided to take the plunge and invest in a packet radio terminal node controller (TNC}. The result has been the most fun I've had in amateur radio since I gave the local repeater coordinator a hotfoot at the 1978 LfMARC hamfest and flea market.

Packet radio, fellow hams, is going to save our hobby. Don't let anyone else tell you anything different. I will be so bold as lo predict that packet wilt become one of our primary operating modes by the end of this decade It witl certainly overtake CW in number of users and will be a rival to phone operation within a few years. Hams wilt still use CW for recre-atlonal purposes—just as some people occasionally like to ride a horse instead of drive an automobile—but packet is destmed to become our primary method of transmitting text information. Requiescat in pace CW, RTTYf and AMTOR.

What makes packet communication so wonderful? Well, imagine being able to tie into intemationai computer bulletin boards, to swap error-free messages and programs, and to have your computer send and receive data even when you re away or asleep. Who needs CompuServe, The Source, or those other high-priced on-line information services? Hams wril do it better and for free. That is the heritage 'hat has been handed down to us from the radio pioneers.

Packet, thankfully, is also relatively inexpensive. A $150 TNC connected to your existing 2-meter FM ricebox and home computer will put you in business. Heck, I've seen CW keyboards that cost more.

As you may have guessed, this month s questions are about packet radio. For those of you Who aren't yet acquainted with the technology, ) hope you'll read along. You may pick up some information along the way As for packet veterans: the future is ours.

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